Supporting FDA, FTC and DOJ, CSIP joins in effort to prevent the online sale of fraudulent medications amidst coronavirus pandemic
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) and its members, dedicated to the education and protection of consumers from counterfeit medications and illegal online pharmacies, urge the American public to report medications promising treatment of the “Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019” (COVID-19) by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or by e-mailing the NCDF at [email protected]. CSIP’s VerifyBeforeYouBuy.org will also serve as a resource for those seeking to verify medications online amidst the global coronavirus pandemic.
“With shelter-in-place ordinances in cities across the country, more consumers turn to online pharmacies for their medications,” says CSIP Executive Director Marjorie Clifton. “It is critical we not only continue to protect consumers from fake pharmacy websites, but also from medications which falsely claim to treat or prevent COVID-19. Our organization is coming together to protect consumers from being preyed upon by online predators claiming to have a cure, or taking advantage of homebound Americans.”
CSIP is a coalition of Internet commerce companies including Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Verizon Media, Mastercard, Amex, Discover, PayPal and UPS. They provide online tools to educate and protect consumers from the sale of fraudulent medication. CSIP is part of the solution to flatten the curve amidst COVID-19 helping to prevent unnecessary patient complications when fighting against the coronavirus.
Currently, drug sellers have received warning letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the sale and promotion of unapproved drugs that pose significant risks to patient health and violate federal law. The companies selling fraudulent COVID-19 products so far include Vital Silver, Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd., Xephyr, LLC doing business as N-Ergetics, GuruNanda, LLC, Vivify Holistic Clinic, Herbal Amy LLC, and The Jim Bakker Show. The products cited in the FDA and FTC warning letters are teas, essential oils, tinctures and colloidal silver.
As reported by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Attorney General, below outlines some of the schemes taking place:
- Individuals and businesses selling fake cures for COVID-19 online and engaging in other forms of fraud.
- Phishing emails from entities posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Malicious websites and apps that appear to share Coronavirus-related information to gain and lock access to your devices until payment is received.
- Seeking donations fraudulently for illegitimate or non-existent charitable organizations.
- Medical providers obtaining patient information for COVID-19 testing and then using that information to fraudulently bill for other tests and procedures.
CSIP’s VerifyBeforeYouBuy.org protects consumers from fake online pharmacies by allowing them to check the validity of an online pharmacy before purchasing. According to the FDA, 97 percent of online pharmacies do not comply with U.S. law and are illegal. CSIP has partnered with state governments and health service organizations to provide the tools and reach consumers in their local communities.
For more information regarding CSIP’s educational resources and prevention efforts, please visit safemedsonline.org.
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR SAFE INTERNET PHARMACIES (CSIP)
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP), a non-profit organization founded in 2011 by the White House, to drive public private partnership in the battle against illegal online pharmacies. The member companies include Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, Verizon Media, Mastercard, Amex, Discover, PayPal and UPS. CSIP’s mission is to promote industry best practices and collaboration, and to provide tools and education to consumers around prescription drug safety on the Internet.